Finnriver Farm & Cidery Journal
Orcharding with Geese by Cameron Denning
Following the Finnriver mission to reconnect people to the earth that sustains us, our farm practices are based on an ecosystem model that encourages the normal checks and balances or nature. We seek to use healthy soils as a starting point for pest and disease management. By working with nature, we find ways to turn chores into learning experiences.
Every year we strive to evolve and have a bigger impact on the health of our land and community. As the Orchard Guardian, my main directive is to incorporate this goal in the running of the orchard. In addition to the human hands that work our land, we consider the orchard geese, sheep, pollinators and earthworks part of our orchard management team. Although they are not signed up into our payroll system, they seem content to carry out daily chores of mowing, pollinating and improving fertility. We couldn’t do it without them!
The geese have been an especially successful addition to our crew and in 2018, we received funding from the Washington State Organic and Sustainable Farming Fund to purchase 90 goslings to manage the understory of our orchard and in doing so, minimize or omit the use of heavy machinery, organic herbicides, flame weeding or hand labor.
The added benefits of using geese in the orchard are improved soil fertility and tilth, reduced disease pressure, reduced labor costs and a social connection for farm visitors and staff. Something you may learn more about at the Crew Retreat May 3rd. We are thrilled to receive this grant to further achieve a more holistic approach to managing a high-density orchard system and increase the social value to our operation.
We are not alone in the struggle to reducing one’s impact on the health of the ecosystem and believe that this will be a successful model for other organic apple growers nationwide who want to farm with a holistic approach.